Cheap labour is a disturbingly serious global problem. It happens to be one of the biggest issues in the world, but hardly receives the rightful concern and attention it deserves. It is a true and utter puzzle as to why nothing substantial has been done about it.
It’s happening all around us: from young children to adults working in horrendous conditions such as small cramped rooms that are dark and damp, working extreme hours to receive little pay. It is totally and utterly unethical! These people are not machines! They feel pain, they have feelings, they have families to support and they require food and shelter. They’re just like us; ordinary people trying to survive in this cruel, selfish world. We as humans wouldn’t like to be treated like this, nor would many of us stand for it, so why should we sit back and allow our own kind to be treated like specs of dirt?
The increase in cheap labour over the years is largely due to big corporations becoming multinational businesses to gain economies of scale. One main reason businesses choose to set up in undeveloped countries or choose to outsource to them is to purposely take advantage of their cheap labour. They get away with this cycle because these people need jobs and have no other choice; but we should give them that choice.
The UK implemented ‘National Minimum Wage’ to prevent businesses in the UK under-paying workers in jobs: this is among some of the best legislation the government has ever created. Minimum wage must be implemented into more countries in order to prevent businesses taking advantage of hard workers in undeveloped, cheap labour countries. It is sickening that paying unjustified and unfair amounts is considered acceptable in this day and age. All humans have rights; and therefore we should be treated equally, and as humans.
Cheap labour usually involves child workers, which is a completely unacceptable and appalling practice. Children are slaving away from a young age, when they should be playing, getting an education and experiencing childhood. Recently on the BBC news a United Nations report stated ‘School age children living as refugees outside Syria are increasingly cut off from education and forced to work long hours for low pay’. Around the globe businesses are committing this unlawful act and we are allowing it. To most people cheap labour is like a leaf falling from a tree; it has no effect on us, so why should it matter? Why should we react? What can we do about it? It matters because we are people: we have hearts so that we can feel compassion for others; we have brains so that we can figure out solutions; we have voices so we can express our opinions.
The real culprits here are big businesses who lie to us about their policies, about how their products are produced, and about how they are intentionally taking advantage of cheap labour and causing it to continue. According to a ‘Panorama’ documentary the clothes shop, Primark, had pledged that ‘Primark is a member of the ethical training initiative. The company is committed to monitoring and progressively improving working conditions’. This means they should be providing good working conditions, fair pay and hours, and should not allow child labour. So, to analyse cheap labour, Panorama took it into their own hands to investigate further into whether businesses stay loyal to their policies: they discovered that Primark had not adhered to their policies. Primark was found to be outsourcing work to slum areas outwith the factory. One of the non-factory suppliers from the slum told Panorama, ‘Children aged nine to twelve make clothes’. They work in horrendous conditions for a meagre payment. Although Primark’s sources said their employees only work a forty-eight hour week, this statement is disputed by the factory staff who confirm they work a sixty-six hour week. This example shows how we, as consumers, have been led into a false sense of security by not only Primark, but many multinational businesses whose unethical practices we may not be exposed yet.
Hitting recent headlines have been the preparing, planning and construction for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. This seems like an exciting event and geat development. But the Guardian headlines this story as ‘World Cup 2022: football cannot ignore Qatar workers deaths’. This headline came as a total bombshell to fans. According to ITUC; ‘4,000 construction workers could die before a ball is kicked if conditions do not improve’. The source also states that most if not all workers are immigrants , and that the workers have to put up with “long working hours, hazardous working conditions, being unpaid for months, having their passports confiscated, forced to live in overcrowded labour camps, denied the right to form unions, and without access to free drinking water in extreme heat”. This story is one of many, and it shows the harsh reality of how businesses treat cheap labour behind closed doors. The cruel circumstances those workers face are not unusual; it’s just that we, as the public never find out about it and we choose to let our ignorance continue.
Perhaps there is some truth to the defence that we’re not educated enough on cheap labour to completely understand the concept of it. Many of us are na??ve, but perhaps this is only because we turn a blind eye. Some people’s perspective on cheap labour is ‘that’s life’, but this is an appalling attitude.
Humanity is built like a solid structure: just as the foundations keep a structure stable, so too human beings are the foundations of our structure making it stable and successful. Just as the frame work supports and holds a structure together, so too the human race supports us all, keeping us as one. Just like a building deteriorates over time, so too is our structure beginning to weaken and fall apart. If society becomes too egotistical and everyone is only concerned with fending for themselves, there will be no unity or solidarity as before. Changes need to be put in place before the structure collapses completely, and goes beyond repair. People are beginning to lose their morals and sanity; treating their own kind as experiments and machines. We must create change.